Ahhhh those dreaded spots. If you’re lucky, they’re only a quarter shade darker than your natural skin tone. But if you’re like most of us, hyper-pigmentation can go from dark brown to even black in a matter of days, and take months… sometimes years (yes, years) to get rid of.
What you need to know: hyper-pigmentation is caused by sudden increase in melanin production, and is normally triggered by an inflammatory event. That means a pimple, even if you don’t mess with it, can cause a mark that may darken over time. Hyper-pigmentation is also caused by injury (like if you mess with the pimple), and can darken over time as the skin works to heal itself.
There are plenty of temporary fixes for hyper-pigmentation. Most people reach for bleach in the form of hydroquinone. This problematic ingredient can cause stinging or burning on the affected area. The bleaching product also does not discriminate; so it will lighten any surface of the skin without actually targeting the darker areas. So instead of even skin, you end up with lighter skin and lighter spots. The other issue with hydroquinone is time. It takes about 3 weeks to work, and will continue to work as long as you continue to use it. But the moment you stop, the spots start to darken again.
Permanent fixes for dark spots require more thought and diligence. The most obvious habit to break is to stop picking. The more you pick at your skin, the more likely you are to damage it and trigger hyper-pigmentation. It’s also a good idea to step away from the practice of attacking the problem without consideration for cause or best course of treatment. blemishes are not malicious or random; they don’t just appear to ruin your perfect Tuesday morning. Instead of rushing to pick at it or slap an acid/bleaching agent on it, consider the cause of the blemish and be gentle about the solution.
If you’re dealing with acne, chances are you’re dealing with inflammation. Infrared (red and amber) light therapy can help target and reduce that inflammation. Blue light therapy specifically targets p-acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. and Green light therapy specifically targets hyper-pigmenation.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. We live in a time when cosmetic companies are constantly telling us that more is more. So we layer a ton of products, then layer even more on specific areas in hopes of waking up to miraculously flawless skin. For honest daily maintenance, our skin needs to stay clean, occasionally exfoliated, and hydrated. That’s three products at the most, and you can shave that down to two if you use GAIA Brightening Wash, which also exfoliates as it cleans.
The more gentle you are with your skin, the more likely it is to respond in kind. Same goes for your body. If your skin is constantly inflamed, it’s a good idea to look at what goes on your skin and what goes into your body. There’s no harm in taking stock of your environment, what you eat, and how you maintain your overall health. Our insides and outsides are connected, and what’s going on outside is sometimes a great indicator what might be happening on the inside.
Take skin care one day at a time, and adjust as needed. There is no such thing as one size fits all skin care. Your skin’s needs can change with the seasons, with your environment and as you age. Pay attention, be gentle, and smile. You got this.